bhaṅga

(‘break or bend’)

This is a technical term used by the Indian iconographical works. It may mean either ‘bend or inclination’ or ‘posture’.

Images sculptured in the standing pose may have any one of the following four bhaṅgas:

  1. samabhaṅga (equally balanced): The image is poised firmly on both the legs. The right and left halves are identi-cal. The only exception is that the mudrās or poses of the hands may be different.
  2. ābhaṅga ( slightly bent): The upper half of the image is made to incline slightly to the right side.
  3. tribhaṅga (bent in three places): The head and the hips are disposed slightly to the right and left sides of the centre line.
  4. atibhaṅga (excessively bent): This is really an accentuated form of tribhaṅga.

In some iconographical works, the images are classified as sabhaṅga (with bhaṅga) and abhaṅga (without bhaṅga). Images standing with both legs firmly placed on the ground typify the latter. The former ones are divided into five varieties—the word ‘bhaṅga’ being interpreted as ‘posture’—as follows: sthānaka (standing), āsīna (seated), śayāna (recumbent), yānaka (moving about) and nṛtta (dancing).

The first three among these, are sometimes, again subdivided into yoga (in meditation), bhoga (in enjoyment), vīra (in heroic posture) and ābhicārika (black-magical).